A man who found out a girl he had sex with was underage when she bought a child's bus ticket has been jailed for 18 months.
Ordering 22-year-old Matthew Leckey to spend half in custody and half on licence, Belfast Crown Court Judge David McFarland said the girl was incapable of consenting to sex and legislation was there because “young people have to be protected, essentially, from themselves”.
Earlier he heard that in December last year, Leckey met the girl via Facebook.
Prosecuting lawyer Kate McKay said the girl, who claimed to be 18 on her profile page, had listed her mobile number so the pair began sending sexually explicit texts to each other and met in the north of the city two days later.
They had sex behind a bush, said the lawyer, but stopped as there were too many people around so decided to get a bus to Leckey's flat and it was when she asked for a child's ticket that Leckey became aware of her true age.
Sitting on the bus, the teenager told Leckey she was only 13, but despite this, he took her back to his flat on the Ballygomartin Road and twice had sex with her.
Leckey, from Cairndale in the Forthriver Drive area of Belfast, later pleaded guilty to two offences of sexual activity with a child involving penetration between December 6-9, 2011.
As well as the jail term, Judge McFarland ordered Leckey to sign the police sex offenders’ register for the next 10 years and also imposed a 10-year sexual offences prevention order barring Leckey from having unsupervised contact with anyone under 16 without express written permission from their parents.